Breaking Down the Action:
  • The Set-Up
  • The Crocodile
  • The Lesson

4 Minute Read

Dan 'Jungleman' Cates is known for his peculiar habits and unique perspective on the world.. but what about tipping via Crocodile Dentist?

Jungleman a.k.a. Daniel Cates has done some pretty incredible things in his time as possibly the most entertaining poker player of the last decade. He’s won back-to-back Poker Players Championships for his first two WSOP bracelets  , dressing up at each final table. Then there are his controversial moments, from being surrounded by concubines in a staged pool retreat or his American Pyscho-inspired welcome video when he became a Run It Once ambassador.

So when Cates turned up at a Vegas restaurant with new poker content creator and player Lynne Ji, possibly the last thing the waitress who attended his table was thinking might happen would be a lesson in expected value.

The Set-Up

Having a luxurious meal in an exclusive restaurant is very much the done thing as a professional poker player, and Cates is no different. OK, he is very different, but he still likes fine dining. You can take the man out of the jungle, however, but never the jungle out of the man. Despite enjoying a fine meal, and tipping the waitress $20, he and Ji wanted to play a game.

Asking the waitress if she’d like to have another $20 or risk a 50/50 shot at either $200 or nothing, Cates offered up expected value as Ji filmed the experiment. It’s worth pointing out at this stage that Cates and Ji had already given the waitress a $20 tip. So that was in the bank already… or in her purse. The gamble was for the extra.

So did the waitress take the $20 or go for the gamble? As many asked on Twitter, what were the rules? Ji was happy to clarify.

“She gets 20% no matter what, then the options are:

  1. Take an extra 20, no gamble, for a total of 40
  2. Gamble, lose, make the original 20 and that’s it
  3. Gamble, win, make an extra 100, for a total of $120.” Came her patient reply.

The waitress decided to gamble, turning down the guaranteed $20 in the hope of winning $200.

The Crocodile

Cates and Ji were clearly extremely happy that the waitress chose to risk the $20 in order to win $200. But how would they offer her the 50/50 chance at glory? The Crocodile Dentist app, that’s how. Simply by tapping one tooth or the other, the crocodile would then reveal if the waitress had won $200 or won nothing at all. Talk about a sweat.

According to common knowledge, however, crocodiles do not sweat. To keep cool, they open their mouths in a process called ‘mouth gaping’ (steady on) which is a lot like panting. A quick tap of the screen and the loss was revealed. No $200 bonus.

As the result was being processed by the waitress, Cates and Ji then went on to explain the concept of expected value. The expected value of the bet was $100 in winnings, because if the waitress took the same gamble an infinite number of times, she could expect to win 50% of the time, ergo over the course of luck balancing out, she’d win $100 a time on average. Those are the expected odds.

The Lesson

Quite apart from the slight cringe factor of two poker professionals explaining gambling to a waitress, were they right to teach the lesson? Opening up the concept of improving your expected odds of a long term success in the microcosm of a single bet might have been fun, but was it worth it?

Both Cates and Ji commiserated with the waitress after she lost the chance to win $200, with Cates suggesting that she just won $100 in ‘invisible dollars’ that could be cashed in maybe at a Chuck E. Cheese. After being told that the game was an example of expected odds, the waitress joked that it was “the new Crypto”, which whilst highly amusing to most, might also have needled several big-name poker pros who let a little too much of that wind into their sails.

While we’re downloading Crocodile Dentist right away, we might refrain from teaching other service staff lessons on poker. What’s next? Staring down the maître d when they bring around the dessert menu? Teaching the chef to rest his left hand on his right shoulder when he’s chopping pak choi?

As ever, the world of poker is as singular as it is entertaining.

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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